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When Politics Consumes Policy…Or Does It?

There is an overplayed theme that election year politics shuts the door on policy and ends all hope that policy can advance. Of course, politics has some level of impact on policy (in any year, not just an election year), and large partisan issues have less chances of moving near an election. But the theory that it ends all movement of policy does not align with history or what is expected in 2024.  Just look at three factors for this upcoming election cycle:


Policymakers Need Wins: Incumbent policymakers need policy victories that they can tout back home; doing so near an election is even more important. No policymaker wants to be labeled as someone who gets nothing done. As an election year approaches, policymakers will be finding opportunities to secure wins and simply opposing everything will not work in most contested races.


A Large Legislative Agenda Needs to be Addressed: It will be impossible to simply stop policy movement in 2024 given all of the issues on the agenda, including some “must-pass” bills. Two separate appropriations deadlines (January and February), the National Flood Insurance Program (February), FISA (April), the Farm Bill (September), the National Defense Authorization Act (December), FAA Reauthorization (December), and a long list of bills that do not have a deadline but clearly have a bipartisan interest in getting done (tax bill, outdoor recreation bill, etc.). 


An Aggressive Regulatory Agenda Has Been Announced: Some forget that Congress is not the only actor in DC’s policy drama. The Administration recently released their Unified Regulatory Agenda that outlines their regulatory priorities for 2024. The list includes 2,557 actions across the pre-rule stage, proposed rule stage, and final rule stage. Congress will clearly play a role in helping to advance or attempting to block some of these, but a quick look at the regulatory agenda provides a solid reminder that next year will be an active policy space. 

The good news for those who remain engaged during an election year (both within government and outside stakeholders) is that so many believe nothing gets done that they move their focus away from policy and the competitive landscape becomes much less crowded. An election year is a great time to advance policy, especially for those who have a sophisticated strategy and their issues are not at the center of debate on the campaign trail. 


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